BOOK REVIEWS: Jane Green

At first glimpse, you might think that Jane Green is just another romantic novel writer, but in fact all of her books deal with life’s challenges. There is a book centring around breast cancer and the importance of friendship during one’s final yeas on this earth; there is a book about alcoholism and how this addiction is still often not seen as an illness; there is themes around divorce, having new-born babies change your life, and tales about sisterhood and family ties. Most important of all though, all books emphasise the crucial element of friendship and companionship with fellow humans in our daily lives.

Jane Green is an American writer based in Connecticut, but many of her books take place in London and Nantucket – these having been important to her in her own life. She primarily writes about women and issues close to them, but in each book, there is always a male character to give a man’s perspective on the goings-on. She has a compelling writing style, and even the most serious of issues are dealt with humour and a gentle approach that leaves the reader thinking that they are part of the story.

One reason for the stories to feel so real to the reader is that, in her writing, Jane Green draws on her own experiences.  She is a cancer survivor who lives with an untreatable disease; she has lived in all the cities and towns that she writes about; she has been through divorce; she is a career woman involved in writing for magazines and newspapers to radio presenting and TV appearances. She has a blended family with many kids, a husband and pets. She is also a yoga practitioner and believes in gratitude and focussing on the good in life as a secret to happiness.

I have read several of Green’s novels(if not all… I am not sure!). My favourite one is called ‘The Beach House’. While reading this book, I could imagine myself walking on the white sandy beach of Nantucket and watching the ocean waves hit the shore. If you feel like being transported to a place where you can truly relax, try reading the book and see the effects:

THE BEACH HOUSE

Green’s latest book ‘Summer Secrets’ is an apt story of a young woman who suffers from alcoholism. The story unravels in a way that explains alcoholism in a professional way, yet keeps it light with a sense of humour. A must read for anyone who is dealing with the illness:

SUMMER SECRETS

One of the funniest books by Green that I read was ‘Babyville’. Perhaps because I had a new-born son at the time, I couldn’t help but relate to the stories about the women with young babies and how they coped with life once a tiny person had completely changed it:

BABYVILLE

Jane Green also regularly writes on her blog and you can find snippets of her writing on her website:

BABYVILLE

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEWS: Paulo Coelho

The first time I heard about Paulo Coelho and his books, I was in my early twenties. Many friends and peers talked about him and how inspiring his books had been to them. I was intrigued and decided to read ‘The Alchemist’, which was on top of the best seller chart at the time in many countries.

I started reading the book but gave up after the first chapter. Somehow I just couldn’t get into it – I found it very hard to follow the plot and to understand what it was about. I know those of you who have read it will now be thinking – ‘what? but its so well-written and easy to read!’. I agree with that entirely. I read it ten years later on one sitting.

Now I understand that, in my twenties, I wasn’t ready to lose myself in one of Coelho’s books; I wasn’t ready to read about the more spiritual issues that he writes about, nor ready to reflect on my life in a more profound way. Although Coelho’s books are spiritual in nature, you can also read them as stories about other people and the purpose of their lives. They can be read as general ‘guidelines’ for life, or simply as stories to entertain oneself. However, I would say that whether you want it or not, you will reflect on your life after reading one of his books as they do tend to set off you on a journey of internal reflection…

Paulo Coelho also writes and shares short stories on his website. You can read snippets of his books on his daily blog too: http://www.paulocoelhoblog.com.

Coelho has written dozens of books over the past thirty years or so, but my personal favourite is ‘The Pilgrimage’. The book explores the issue of our need to find our own paths in this life. Throughout the book, there is emphasis on how the extraordinary can always be found in the ordinary and simple ways of everyday people. The book is part adventure story, part guide to self-discovery. It is a recollection of Coelho’s experiences as he made his way across northern Spain on his own pilgrimage.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4004.The_Pilgrimage

 

If you are ready for some self-discovery and enticing stories, you can pick your favourite the book list below:

http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/8131.The_Best_of_Paulo_Coelho

 

 

BOOK REVIEWS: Carol Matthews

I discovered Carol Matthews novels a few years ago when I was looking for something light to read for those rare occasions when my new-born baby was sleeping.  The attractive and colourful covers of the books initially made me pick up one of her books at the library. After flicking thorough a few pages, I thought that it might be just what I was looking for, and I was right.

Matthew’s writing style is captivating and she has such a hilarious sense of humour that, most of the time when you are reading, you can’t help it but smile. She write about everyday common people who live in the UK and their daily lives. You can easily identify with the characters and imagine that they are your neighbour or your friend. Often when you come to the end of the book, you feel like you need to say goodbye to a friend and wish that Matthews will write a sequel so that you know what your friends will be up to next. Luckily she often does write about the same characters, which is one reason for wanting to grab the next book as soon as you have finished the first one. Two new novels come out each year – one in time for Christmas and the other in time for summer holidays. In addition, you can follow all news on books on the writer’s website: http://www.carolematthews.com

My favourite on of her books by far is ‘The Only Way Is Up’. I was actually laughing out loud through most of the book. What better way to completely relax and forget about the world around you than to loose yourself in such a hilarious book? The books is essentially about a well-off couple who lose everything they have and find themselves living in a rough part of town after having lost all they have. It’s about understanding what truly matters in life and how you can find the most loyal friendship in the most unexpected places. It’s about survival and the fundamental kindness of the human spirit. For anyone interested in reading a heart-warming story about friendship and values, I totally recommend this book:

The Only Way is Up

My other favourite is the first novel that I read by Matthews and that had be hooked into her books. This one is called ‘Wrapped Up In You’ and it is about a love story between a young English lady and a Maasai warrior man from Kenya. As you can imagine, it is a fun-filled and beautiful story about cultural clashes, an English woman living in the Kenyan wilderness, a Maasai warrior guarding a tiny English village and about how love can conquer all fears and worries. Anyone with a flair for the exotic, check the book out:

Wrapped up in You

If you are in a more festive mood, the latest book ‘The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas’ is out now and will no doubt keep you entertained over your holidays.

The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas

BOOK REVIEWS: Jackie Collins Novels

JACKIE COLLINS – A WARRIOR WOMAN IF EVER THERE WAS ONE

I heard about Jackie Collins and her infamous books many times over the years. Despite the praise that she was receiving, I never got around reading her novels. Only recently, after she passed away of hardcore breast cancer, which she had quietly suffered from for the past six and half years without the public knowing, I thought that I ought to find out what this strong woman had to offer to us in her books.

I wasn’t  to be disappointed.

I started off by reading her latest novels from a few years ago on the Santangelo family. I immediately got hooked on finding out what happened to each family member over the years and somehow I had read five 600 page long books within two weeks!

There was Chino, the Italian mafia guy who owened half of Las Vegas. There was Lucky, Chino’s wild child, who experienced all sorts of adventures from a cruise on a luxury ship near the Greek islands to living the highlife in Hollywood. There was Bobby, Lucky’s son, running nightclubs all over the US. And there were many friends and relatives from all sorts of backgrounds living the life of the extraordinary.

Soon enough I was gripped in finding out who had murdered whom, who had married and divorced whom and who was whose child. All of the books proved to be glamorous Hollywood entertainment at their best. Remember 90210 on TV? Or Desperate Housewives? Add in some Miss Marble detective thrill and you have excellent Jackie Collins novels at ready.

I am not surprised that Jackie Collins has such a wide-spread readership across the globe. She  is, in fact,  one of the world’s top-selling writers. Over 500 million copies of her books have been sold in more than 40 countries. She also holds 30 New York Times bestsellers to her credit.

Jackie Collins truly knew how to write about the life of the rich and famous in Hollywood by telling readers what really goes on in the fastest lane of all. From Beverly Hills bedrooms to a raunchy prowl along the streets of Hollywood; from glittering rock parties and concerts to stretch limos and the mansions of the power brokers — Jackie Collins chronicles the real truth from the inside looking out. What better way to get your mind of your own life and completely relax than to lose yourself in one of the Collins novels?

As Collins herself said about her novels: ‘I write about real people in disguise. If anything, my characters are toned down — the truth is much more bizarre.’

Jackie Collins already started writing when she was a teenager. She used to make up steamy stories her schoolmates would pay her for to devour. Her first book, The World is Full of Married Men, became a sensational bestseller because of its open sexuality and the way it dealt honestly with the double standard. That was the beginning of a life-long career and passion. Other books followed  such as The World is Full of Divorced Women, Hollywod Wives and Lethal Seduction.

After reading the latest books by Collins, I was curious to read some of her earlier work to see how her style had changed over the years. I was also slightly sceptical about her work having become repetitive over the years. But it was not so. If anything, the earlier books were as entertaining as the later ones, only with different charatcers and often having sections also set in Europe. Collin’s capturing writing style was there right from the beginning and she truly had a gift for keeping readers on their toes, eager to find out what would happen next.

Jackie Collins wrote about strong women, because she was a strong woman, and believed that girls could do anything. Even when she was dying of breast cancer,  she continued to write for her dedicated readers. Writing brought  her tremendous joy, and it was her love of family and writing that kept her vibrant and driven to the very end.

A taster on the infamous Santangelo family :

A vicious hit. A vengeful enemy. A drug addled Colombian club owner. A sex crazed Italian family. And the ever powerful Lucky Santangelo has to deal with them all, while Max—her teenage daughter is becoming The “It” girl in Europe’s modeling world. And her Kennedyesque son, Bobby, is being set up for a murder he didn’t commit. But Lucky can deal. Always strong and unpredictable with her husband, Lennie, by her side she lives up to the family motto—Never fuck with a Santangelo.

Lucky rules. The Santangelos always come out on top. An epic family saga filled with love, lust, revenge and passion.

http://jackiecollins.com/book/the-santangelos/

A taster on Collin’s earlier work:

The world is their bedroom… Cleo James, the cool British journalist who joined the thrill seekers when she found her husband coupling with her best friend. Muffin, the luscious centerfold, with a little girl charm, a big girl body, and an appetite for all that Hollywood has to give. Mike James,the music promoter who adores his Cleo but whose addiction to women is constant and insatiable. Jon Clapton, who took a little English girl from Wimbledon, and made her into Britain’s top model, and now wants to keep those profits rolling in any way he can…And Daniel Onel, an actor grown older, wiser—and hungrier than ever for Cleo James.

http://jackiecollins.com/book/the-world-is-full-of-divorced-women/

Category: book reviews